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ARGENTINA | 01-10-2021 01:54

President, vice-president make rare public appearance together

Alberto Fernández and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner smile for the cameras as the government announces a plan to boost agroindustry; Frente de Todos' top-tier leaders relaunch campaign ahead of November's midterm elections.

President Alberto Fernández and Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner sought to put internal coalition tensions behind them on Thursday as they relaunched the government’s midterm election campaign with a bill designed to boost the agroindustrial sector.

Stressing the need to “put an end to the disagreements,” President Fernández called for unity and appealed to the voters who back him in 2019 to return to the fold in November.

"We no longer have to talk so much about what we couldn't do, but rather about what we must do to find the direction we need," said the Peronist leader.

"It is not necessary for all of us to think alike," admitted Fernández, who was joined by his vice-president for the first time since the ruling coalition’s heavy loss in the September 12 PASO primaries.

Frente de Todos was plunged into crisis in the the immediate aftermath of the result. After days of speculation about infighting and tensions, Fernández de Kirchner wrote a public letter blaming the government’s loss on what she described as a mistaken policy of “fiscal adjustment” that she claims caused the electorate to turn its back on Frente de Todos.

The bill announced Thursday, which the government hopes will boost agribusiness, “vindicates the culture of meeting and dialogue" said Fernández on Thursday, a direct reference to previous Peronist tensions with agricultural producers and exporters, which included strike action against Fernández de Kirchner’s 2007-2015 governments.

The agro-industrial plan, a conciliatory gesture towards the sector, includes tax benefits that the government says could increase food exports by US$7 billion. This year to date, sales amount to around US$29 billion. The government wants to raise that to US$100 billion by 2030.

Argentina is one of the world's major food suppliers. Agro-industrial exports represent 21 percent of gross domestic product and 65 percent of total foreign sales.

"This bill is the result of listening to each other, looking for common ground and seeing how we can reconcile interests that are not always necessarily the same," said the president.

Nominally, he was talking about relations between the agricultural lobby and Peronist governments, but the subtext of his remarks was clear to all.

 

– TIMES/AFP

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